People suffering from Ankylosing spondylitis will always tell you: It is just as bad as it sounds. It is a form of rheumatoid arthritis that affects the spinal cords of mostly young males and makes life a living hell for them. Sitting, standing, walking and even sleeping become a giant pain. Which means basically staying awake and not crying out in pain every five seconds is what life is like living with this ailment.
Breaking out in night sweats and not being able to sleep in any position save sleeping only on the back is a massive pain people with ankylosing spondylitis. Though strategic positioning of pillows and short spurts of sleep may seem like a good method to attain better sleep, which is not the case.
Besides buying the best mattress, here are a few solutions to aid people suffering from ankylosing spondylitis to get better sleep.
- Try exercising while lying down –
One of the best ways to get better sleep while suffering from ankylosing spondylitis is to exercise while lying down. Lie face down on a firm mattress or on a mat on the floor for about 15-20 minutes. If there is any discomfort while doing this, use a rolled up towel or a fluffy pillow and place it under your head or on your chest. Try this for 20 minutes at the very least with the face facing either side. Once your muscles relax, you can try sleeping on your back.
- Avoid using a large, fluffy pillow – Though it may not seem like much, elevating the neck while sleeping distorts the spine and can incite severe joint pain. So, only use a pillow if your body allows it. If you can do without it, do away with it completely. In case sleeping without any form of support for the head makes you uncomfortable, try using a folded towel or buy a really thin pillow. In any case, using a pillow to support the back and the legs when you fall asleep should be avoided at all cost.
- Purchase the best mattress to tackle ankylosing spondylitis –
This form of arthritis can be best managed by choosing the best mattress. As arthritis hinders joint movement, having the right mattress that eases joint pain almost over-night is a must have. The correct choice of mattress can help avoid chronic joint pain and can help a person to sleep comfortably through the night which can help avoid other cardiovascular ailments as well. Even though a soft mattress may seem to ease the pain in the joints, it is just temporary relief and it harms in the long run as it does not help put pressure on the joints. A soft mattress also does not help because it encourages the body to settle in one position and sleep, which is not a good idea because it makes you feel stiff in the morning.
- Leave your bed if you cannot seem to fall asleep – In your quest to find better sleep, continuing to toss and turn in bed for a long period of time seems like a good thing to do. Rather than doing that, doctors suggest the best thing you can do is to get out of bed to avoid further stress. Reading and listening to smooth classical music is highly recommended in this case to help relax the mind though watching television or using the phone is not. Engaging in any form of rigorous exercise of any kind is highly discouraged.
- Include swimming, yoga and meditation in your daily schedule –
Regularly exercising the chest and back muscles by indulging in swimming and yoga can help ease off any inflammation caused. It also helps increase the flexibility of the neck, hips and shoulders which help in sleeping. Meditation is highly recommended because it helps in deep breathing which in turn helps relax the rib cage. Once the rib cage relaxes, the lungs can expand and contract at ease which makes breathing while sleeping very easy and helps the mind relax. One key point to be remembered here is: Always start off with light exercises and then proceed for harder ones. That too only if the body permits. In case of any flare up in pain, please call the doctor.
- Improve your posture – While sleeping, walking and sitting, your focus should always be on your posture. Pay more attention to your body while sitting and walking and try to fall asleep in a better posture without the help of pillows or other peripherals. Your aim should be to keep your spine as straight as possible, with the head held high and your shoulders squared. If your job entails long working at a desk for long durations of time, make sure that you invest in an ergonomically efficient chair. If that is not possible, make sure that you are not slacking while sitting and that your chair is providing ample support to your spine. Keep checking and correcting your posture whenever you can. If you have trouble while sleeping, try sleeping on your stomach for a while before you shift to sleeping on your back.
Doctors, specially rheumatologists always say the key to unlocking better sleep for people suffering from ankylosing spondylitis lies within the mind. The focus of almost every patient should be on regulating the schedule for the day as much as possible and devoting time to regular exercise.
Deep breathing when waking up and falling asleep is always a great option. Not just because that helps in increasing the lung capacity, it also aids in making the rib cage more flexible which making getting into a comfortable posture much easier. And buying the best mattress will only aid in the recovery of people with this condition.
Swimming and yoga besides meditation are key mind and body expanding exercises one should focus on irrespective of the condition one is in. People suffering from this condition should definitely opt to follow this regimen and so should people who are aiming to avoid this condition as well.